Yesterday I was in the Mission church with one of the residents in the university dorm who had just had been told his friend had been murdered in the Seattle Pacific University shooting. While I was sitting there with him beside me, silently weeping, I looked around and saw Jesus on the cross. I started to think about the pain and suffering of a crucifixion and how that must have been so difficult, not only for Jesus, but for God as well. What must God have been thinking while those men were nailing his only son to the cross, at each pound of the hammer I imagine God feeling the pain of not only Jesus but the pain for the whole of creation, that they would do such a thing. However, God did nothing. There was some darkness and a curtain split but other than that, unlike God in the Hebrew Scriptures (with the locusts plagues etc), he did nothing. There was no war against humanity, if anything God showed the greatness and power of forgiveness by the resurrection and assumption.
Then this gets me back to my resident, who just lost a dear friend. What do I say, how can I take this hurt away for him? Then I realised, it’s not about the hurt being taken away, it is about how we respond to that hurt. God showed us how we can respond in forgiveness, which does not = just war. When I was sitting with this student I certainly could have fed the fire and responded by saying that the killer was completely at fault and he deserves the death sentence etc. But do we really believe that? We have all had a hand in this shooting, by us allowing guns to be so readily available, by allowing such violent video games be played by young minds 8 hours a day, day after day, by allowing the idealistic notion of soldiers and murderers paid by the government, all the while education and health funds are being shifted to ‘just war’ technologies. So we sat there and discussed what he is feeling, what emotions is he going through. Two things resounded for him, how he never thought this would affect him and how could he be more present to the people in his life. I journeyed through these questions with him, we discussed the numbness we now feel when we hear of another shooting “oh, that’s sad, but it’s not happened to me”. Well it’s happened to him, and a lot of us are going to feel these repercussions if we sit silently by and not stand up to the catalysts of these shootings and the numbness that we are feeling in society. How do we do this? Similar to Jesus and the indigenous people of Australia, speaking our story until a systematic change comes to fruition. Unless we start petitioning and letting our voices be heard we are certainly going to see more shootings and with more money being provided to ‘just war’ initiatives.
John Oliver on the Daily Show puts the gun control debate into perspective in relation to what Australia has achieved. I encourage you to watch this video.